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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chama, nm

Taking a zero day I'm chama New Mexico. Had a great and beautiful hike from ghost ranch up into Colorado. Met up with 6 other hikers on the trail. Next section to pagosa springs will have more snow, but we hear its not impossible.

Here's a picture from breakfast.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Spent 5 days in Taos relaxing with the family. Blake flew out from NYC and we stayed at the house of a family friend. There was a lot of reading, watching sunsets and exploring New Mexico. I read Blood a Thunder, a book about the life of Kit Carson who lived in Taos. The thing I didn't leave time for was going through the pictures and posting about it on my blog, maybe I'll catch up from the trail.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Phone blogging

While in Albuquerque, I picked a couple new gear items. The first is a solar panel that I will use to charge my phone and hopefully blog more often from the trail, uploading when I hit service.

I will still put up more complete posts when I get to town, but this will let me share the neat view, or where I'm camping for the night.

I also picked up a new water filter called a Sawyer and connected it in line with my hydration hose. So far its worked great and I don't have to worry about pumping or treating water anymore.

This is also a test of blogging from my phone, we'll see how it goes...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Santa Fe to Pecos

I took the train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and hiked out of town into the Pecos Wilderness.
I got to Santa Fe with my backpack and walked through the Plaza. I grabbed a bite to eat and walked out of town 7 miles up the highway to the first trailhead, then back into the woods. I hiked up past the ski hill then on to the Pecos Wilderness.
As I was hiking in, the clouds were starting to build and looked at the forecast and it said there was a chance of rain or snow for the next four days. Unfortunate, but mountain storms don't usually stick around all day.
The first three days I dodged the worst of the storms. Once, setting up my tent again to hang out while it rained for 4 hours. Everyday my plan was variable, depending on the weather.
Until the 4th day when I needed to make it over the ridge. I only had enough food for another day and my resupply box was two days away. I thought I'd be able to push for a big day and make it. The higher I went up the ridge the more snow I ran into. At 11,500 feet, I was still two miles from the crest and postholing through 3 to 4 feet of snow. I was cold, wet and hungry and this was the south facing slope. The other side was going to be five times as worse. With these factors I decided to bail and head back to a trailhead and make my way back to Pecos, NM.
It turned out to provide a lot of rewards. The storm eventually started clearing late that afternoon and as I crossed one meadow I saw something move across the way. It looked like a dog and at first I thought it was a coyote. I took a few pictures and after looking at them, I realized it was a grey wolf!!! Makes sense, I was at 10,500 feet in a wooded meadow, not exactly the coyote habitat.
Then I found a great campsite with a panoramic view of the entire range. It was one of the best sunrises I've watched thus far on the trip.
The hike out had great views of the Pecos river canyon. At the trailhead there was a television show shooting a scene and I saw my first bear! on a leash... It was a part of the shoot.
I started walking and hitched a ride after four or five miles. I was surprised at how little Pecos had to offer. The only grocery store in town was a Dollar General and there wasn't any kind of a motel. I hiked out two miles to where the forest service land began, hoping to camp next to a stream on the map, but when I got there it turned out to be dry. So the next day I hiked back to Pecos and hitched around to Las Vegas, NM that had a lot more resources and the best 35$ a night hotel I've ever stayed at.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012


After all that road walking to get to Grants, I was ready to break off and see some trail. I hopped on a Greyhound to Albuquerque where I'll stay for a few days before heading up to Santa Fe to hike for a week in the Sangre De Christo Range. I'm excited to see some new terrain and might even get up into some snow. And my feet will have time to fully recover! Grants marked 400 miles of trail down. A pretty significant chunk. For the future I'm going to try to do more blogging with my phone and posting from mountain tops. The posts might not be as structured and organized, but at least a little more constant. I'll still write up something with the pretty pictures, and might just link back to the earlier stories.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pie Town to Grants

From Pie Town it was on to Grants, 80 miles away. about 65 miles of that was on roads and 10 miles not on roads was across a lava field. A lot of rough walking.
The first day out of town it was great to have company for distraction as the miles rolled by. We stopped by the Thomas Ranch where an old couple made water available to hikers. They had been married for 62 years and never actually finished a story. There's something about listening to old people that I always enjoy, especially now that I don't have my own grandparents.
Later down the road a truck pulled up and told us about a new water source and gave us beers. The only good thing about hiking on roads is free beer. We caught up with him at the well he put in and he was a pretty cool guy. Clement had adjusted well to the western ideas and was leaning on the truck drinking his Bud.
The next day was more road walk into the evening. Fortunately it was a full moon to light the last of the way to our tent site.
The next obstacle was the lava field called The Malpais, spanish for "bad land." It was up and down over rough lava exposed to the sun in the middle of the afternoon. It was rough and we celebrated when we finally finished it.
We hiked two miles past a water cache expecting to find a windmill that was supposed to work. When we got there, the wind was blowing but the prop wasn't turning. We tried to jump start it by climbing to the top and trying to jump start it by pushing, but that didn't work. So the next morning I hiked the 2 miles back to the cache, got 3 gallons of water for us, and hiked it back to the group. Then I took off and headed to town, determined to make it to Grants before the Post Office closed.
I hiked a pretty good clip and made it fine. I was also motivated by the big grey clouds that were blowing all around. When I finished, I rewarded myself with McDonalds. In Grants were another couple of Trail Angels that put us up, did our laundry and made dinner and breakfast. It's amazing the generosity that people can have for complete strangers. They say our gratitude is more then we can get out of it. They are in the business of making custom bird cages. If you know anyone interested, check them out:

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pie Town

Pie Town is hardly a town. There are about 500 people that live there and is mostly a ranching community. I heard of it first from the emigrant photos from the 40s. I imagine some people there are relatives of some in the photos.
The truly unique thing about Pie Town is the Toaster house. I don't know of the origins, but since I've heard of the CDT, I've heard of the toaster house. A trail angel is someone that helps hikers along the trail and lend support. Maybe in a water cache, maybe letting you stay in their home. Nita, the owner of the toaster house, has always gone far beyond that. She moved out of the house a few years ago and now just lets hikers stay there without supervision. It's called the toaster house because of the collection of electronics on the fence outside the house, including a lot of toasters.
Pie town has two resturants. The Pie Cafe has the best breakfasts, and we went there and were not disappointed. It was also the local hang out for the ranchers to get their breakfast after feeding the cows. As each would come in, they would go around the room saying hi to the familiar faces. All were in western ranching outfits, a few with spurs, rifles on gunracks in the back of trucks. Coming into pie town we had also met Clement (Cle-mon') a guy from France also hiking the CDT. He was particularly amazed at how movie like the atmosphere was. Everyone was exceptionally friendly and knew exactly what we were doing there.
After breakfast we went to the post office and picked up more packages of groceries. We ran into another local who said he had left a dozen fresh eggs at the toaster house for us. They made a great breakfast the next day.
The toaster house is very rustic in a great way. There is a covered porch that stays cool in the shade well past noon. It has a wood burning stove which was an experience to cook on, and is the primary heat source of the house. It is a great place to hang out and it was hard to leave after a full day off.
The second restaurant is the Pie-o-neer cafe. We ended up having a 3 hour lunch, hanging out and just enjoying the slow pace of town. We had our required piece of pie there and I had the Green Chile Pine Nut Apple pie. It was tart and savory and delicious. And apparently it's nationally known.
After lunch, Nita took us on a driving tour of town. We stopped by a telescope that is part of the Very Long Baseline Array, not the VLA, but was the first iteration of that project.
From there we went out to the town sasquatch and alien that someone carved. Apparently the sasquatch raised complaints because it's technically naked.
Then Nita took us by the Stool Bus. It's a sanitary waste truck that is all puns. They have a website But that really skips the amazing puns and word play. My favorite was the sTool Box. And if you can't see in the picture the stools in the picture have names: Turdy; Pu-Wee and Stinky; Skidder; Corny; and Loosy Stool. Poop jokes cross all sections of life.
We had the fresh eggs for breakfast after starting the morning fire, and it was hard to leave. Pie town is a place I'll stop in again.